If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang
A Book Review by Mina Nguyen
If You Could See the Sun is a relatable slowburn, academic rivals-to-lovers read. Alice Sun is the ideal student: smart, ambitious, and a leader. Alice Sun thrives on academic validation, constantly ranking the top of her class. It’s the only way she feels seen at her elite Beijing international boarding school among the richest, most influential teens. Her only competition is Henry, but she’s sure she can beat him. However, this plan becomes complicated when she begins to turn invisible. When her parents drop the news that they can no longer afford her tuition, she sets a plan in action. Using her invisibility, she’ll monetize her classmate’s scandalous secrets, but she needs Henry’s help. But as the tasks escalate, turning from petty scandals to crimes, Alice must decide if these crimes are worth the money she’s making to remain at school.
This is a great debut novel. The romance is nuanced and well-developed, especially for such a short read. All the characters, even the side characters, were flushed out and well-rounded. Every character had a personality, and the side-characters had a purpose rather than to progress the development of Alice. Alice is an extremely well-written character. She’s relatable, and the author does a good job of making her realistic. A lot of readers would relate to her character. This book has some fantasy elements through her turning invisible, and Liang does a great job of using the fantasy element in a contemporary read. It falls into the book naturally, and there are no plot holes. The author does a good job of integrating it into the book naturally. I also appreciated the perspective of the elite and the constant scandals to stay at the top. Liang also does a great job of explaining the feelings of imposter syndrome and basing self-worth through academics and how it can mentally affect students negatively. I can definitely see myself easily picking up future books by this author. This was an incredible debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what she writes in the future.
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